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date: 15 July 2019

(p. vii) Foreword

(p. vii) Foreword

After the pleasures which arise from gratification of the bodily appetites, there seems to be none more natural to man than Music and Dancing. … Without any imitation, instrumental Music can produce very considerable effects … : by the sweetness of its sounds it awakens agreeably, and calls upon the attention; by their connection and affinity it naturally detains that attention, which follows easily a series of agreeable sounds, which have all a certain relation both to a common, fundamental, or leading note, called the key note; and to a certain succession or combination of notes, called the song or composition. … Time and measure are to instrumental Music what order and method are to discourse; they break it into proper parts and divisions, by which we are enabled both to remember better what has gone before, and frequently to forsee somewhat of what is to come after: .… the enjoyment of Music arises partly from memory and partly from foresight.

Adam Smith (1777). Of the nature of that imitation which takes place in what are called the imitative arts. In: Essays on Philosophical Subjects (eds W.P.D Wightman and J.C. Bryce), Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1982.

The psychiatrist Daniel Stern gave us a new scientific appreciation of the vital foundations of verbal or representational intelligence in the spontaneous impulses of human communication, including the imitative arts of music and dance. Stern studied the power of twins a few months old to share consciousness and feelings with a mother in play (Stern 1971), and he related this understanding to enrich psychoanalytic therapy for emotional distress in relationships (Stern 2000). He proposed that the source of our sense of relating emotionally with other persons is the unspoken “vitality dynamics” of our actions-with-awareness—the “how” we move, not the articulate “why” or “what” of our purpose or the object we choose (Stern 2010). Stern describes the expressive qualities of movement as “forms of feeling” engaged with emotional “attunement,” and he draws special attention to the organization of movements through time in“proto-narrative envelopes.” These powers need no words to engage hearts and minds in therapy for depressed emotions and to relieve suffering from social isolation (Trevarthen and Malloch 2000).

In the introduction to the second edition of his book The Interpersonal World of the Infant, Stern wrote, “One consequence of the book’s application of a narrative perspective to the non-verbal has been the discovery of a language useful to many psychotherapies that rely on the non-verbal. I am thinking particularly of dance, music, body, and movement therapies, as well as existential psychotherapies. This observation came as a pleasant surprise to me since I did not originally have such therapists in mind; my thinking has been enriched by coming to know them better.” (Stern 2000, p. xv).

Advances in movement psychology over the last century have brought to medical science the realization that prospective control of movements requires, not training to assemble thoughtless reflex reactions to stimulating events, but exploration of creative motor plans through consciously guided measures of time, with emotions that control economy of the (p. viii) energy required to sustain well-being in the body. Charles Sherrington (1906) discovered proprioception, the feelings of muscle action, which he called the “felt Me,” and was led by exploration of the neural foundations of agency to a more humane medical concern for disorders of the will, which he presented in his Gifford Lectures entitled Man on His Nature (Sherrington 1955). In that book he articulated a rich conception of evolution and development of a human person from a fertilized ovum as an epigenetic creation of organic vitality, concluding: “It would be imagination rather than memory which we must assume for the ancestral cell; memory could not recall experience it never had.”(Sherrington 1955, Chapter 4, The Wisdom of the Body, pp. 103–104). This remains as a firm reminder that our actions and experience, and our affective states and the expressions of our personality, cannot be attributed to a “gene code.” They are inventive products of the processes of an effort of the whole organism to live in relations, which have powers to regulate how our genes are expressed.

Rigorous proof of the power of the brain to imagine consequences of motor action was obtained by Nikolai Aleksandrovich Bernstein, a Russian scientist in Moscow's Central Institute of Laborin the 1930s who developed microscopic analysis of films, of athletes running, of workers using tools and of young children mastering toddling, walking, and running, to prove that the remarkable efficiency of our powerful or delicate motor actions requires precise prospective planning by a dynamic and rhythmic “image” in the brain, which assembles complexes of muscle activity throughout the body to function adaptively (Bernstein 1967). Bernstein’s work inspired the science of kinesics, how postures and gestures exchanged in live conversation “orchestrate” and “conduct” the meaning specified in words. Film studies of how movements of the whole body accompany conversational use of words, enriching meaning and resolving ambiguities of understanding (Condon and Ogston 1966; Birdwhistell 1970), inspired Stern’s research with infants. Condon and Sander (1974) showed that hand gestures of a newborn infant can translate shared experience in synchrony with a spoken message of an adult. All the parameters of personal motor control—the kinematics or rhythm, the energetics or effort, and the physiognomics or form—are enhanced and coordinated in proto-conversations and games with babies as adult and child use face, hands, eyes, and voice (Trevarthen 1986). They are giving emotionally charged purpose to sensory-motor organs that are already formed in the human foetus for communicating states of mind (Trevarthen and Delafield-Butt 2013).Their expressive actions in proto-conversational engagements and games have natural properties of “communicative musicality” (Malloch 1999; Malloch and Trevarthen 2009).

Now, motion capture technology gives rich confirmation of the discoveries of Sherrington and Bernstein, supporting a mathematical model of the foresightful process by which the brain takes up or “assimilates” perceptions of being alive in the world by mastering well the resources of a heavy body (Lee 2005). This account of prospective motor control gives us a richer appreciation of how we sense feelings of life in other persons to share awareness and meaning, and it is inspiring a new brain science of intersubjective communication (Ammaniti and Gallese 2014). The power of language to make reference to goals for action and to tell stories depends upon using the musicality of movement in convivial ways, and instinctive concern for the experience of others with “affective attunement,” and this ancient dependence is revealed to be an essential resource for all rational and technical mastery of (p. ix) collective work in ambitious modern culture, and for representation of its knowledge and conventions in artificial media (McGilchrist 2009).

Spoken language has evolved as a way of symbolizing the memory and imagination of precise experiences. It is a traditional cultural code learned to enrich the primary intersubjective communication that comes to life in proto-conversations with infants (Bateson 1979; Trevarthen 1979). Music expresses a more ancient and more intimate way of sharing the meaning of life (Blacking 1976; Cross and Morley 2009; Trevarthen 2012). It has special power to enrich and sustain trusting relationships in large and busy human communities, to define personal identity, and to make calm understanding of stressful experiences and imagining (Brandt 2009). All human cultures depend on a fellowship of artful creativity that celebrates the pulse of life, with what Victor Turner calls “the human seriousness of play” (Turner 1982), and with the imaginative talents Jerome Bruner attributes to us as “story-making animals” (Bruner 1990). With music and dance we celebrate community in ritual ceremonies, and individuals who lead these in artful ways are responded to with admiration and their inventions are imitated and remembered as treasures of culture (Dissanayake 2009)

The grace and efficiency of any activity is determined by feelings for the rhythms of life, the dynamic transitions between serial projects of motor activity (Trevarthen 2013). Emotional states are primarily concerned with the anticipation of the risks and benefits of our actions. Stern related his theory of Vitality Dynamics to the process philosophy of Susan Langer who wrote of “forms of feeling,” as in a melody, that combine physiological events of embodied experience and the compositions of narrative and thought. “There are certain aspects of the so-called ‘inner life’—physical or mental—which have formal properties similar to those of music—patterns of motion and rest, of tension and release, of agreement and disagreement, preparation, fulfillment, excitation, sudden change, etc.” (Langer 1942, p. 228). Music has power to influence the well-being of the self by directly engaging with the autonomic nervous system to relieve the damaged spirit of traumatized individuals (Osborne 2009).

Jaak Panksepp, a leading researcher on the emotional systems of the brain and their neurochemistry, applies his knowledge to develop “affective neuroscience” and “neuro-psychoanalysis.” He interprets emotions in music as follows: “Through unfathomed neurochemical responses in the brain, the sounds of music can bring joy and dull the jab of pain, as endogenous opioids and many other affective chemistries are recruited in musically entrained minds.” (Panksepp and Trevarthen 2009, p. 105). Thus music becomes a medium for engaging with “primary affective consciousness” (Solms and Panksepp 2012).There is a growing science of the deep consciousness of vitality in the body and of its sympathetic communication at all stages of life in community, from the prenatal relation of the fetus with the mother’s vitality through all stages of companionship in learning how to live well through “higher level” consciousness of meaning and who to share it with. This attributes a more lively intelligence with its own measures of self-feeling consciousness and sense of relating to the mysterious “unconscious” of Freud, and leads to development of different, less explicit or more intuitive, methods of psychoanalysis and of therapy. The philosopher Barbara Goodrich, in an article entitled “We do, therefore we think: time, motility, and consciousness” reviews work of two leading scientists Rodolfo Llinás and GyörgyBuszáki who study motor control and rhythms of the brain, to support the conclusion that “playing music—one of the most cognitively and emotionally demanding of all human activities, arguably one (p. x) of the most definitively ‘human’ of all activities—is founded in carefully, creatively guided movement —not thought alone” (Goodrich 2010, p. 339).

Jane Edwards’ book offers us a rich review of current understanding how guided practice in sharing musical performance can relieve the shame of loss of self-confidence in relationships and the fear of acting in communication. As current President of the International Association for Music and Medicine, she has recruited an impressive group of experienced music therapists from many countries who review how music therapy has developed for work to help persons of all ages and with different needs for help with self-confidence, communication, social engagement, and expression of feelings. Different models of practice are compared and different levels of training and qualification are considered. Most importantly methods of research in music therapy are reviewed to explain the nature of the treatment and the beneficial effects it has.

As with the sciences of movement psychology and of communication in infancy, reliable knowledge of the natural process of music therapy has come from detailed case studies with special methods of observation, recording, and analysis, rather than from experimentation with large numbers of subjects using limited measures and statistical analysis. Both “validation” and “reliability” of descriptions of human behavior and experience, and of their emotional regulation between subjects and in groups, require open acceptance of the intrinsic dynamics of the motivation and regulation of agency and the movements that express them. Standardized clinical trials that measure effects of prescribed treatments may not be sufficiently sensitive to the essential causes and controls. This book is a major contribution to the rich and growing practice of music therapy for all ages.

Colwyn Trevarthen, 30 June, 2014

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(p. xi) Cross, I. and Morley, I. (2009). The evolution of music: Theories, definitions and the nature of the evidence. In: S. Malloch and C. Trevarthen (eds), Communicative Musicality: Exploring the Basis of Human Companionship, pp. 61–81. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Find this resource:

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